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Hello Everyone! We always feel happy when you come to our website for useful information that resonates with your needs and requirements. Today, I am going to whet your appetite with the Introduction to Different Types of PCB (Printed Circuit Boards). Most of you are familiar with the PCB, it is a printed circuit board that contains traces, lines and paths to electrically connect different components. It consists of a substrate on which copper conducting material is laminated for creating an electrical connection between components. If you are looking to design your PCB by yourself, you can use any of these top 10 PCB design software. Let's dive in and explore the features of different types of PCB boards.

What is PCB?

  • PCB is an acronym for a Printed Circuit Board that contains tracks, lines and paths to electrically connect different electronics components.
  • It consists of a substrate on which copper material is laminated to create a conduction path between different components.
  • Three ways are used for the construction of PCB called single layer, double layer and multilayered.
  • Required components are connected electrically with the PCB board using two different methods named through-hole technology and surface mount technology.
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  • The through-hole process is an old method and became obsolete. In this process lead wires are used that pass through the hole of the PCB board and then soldered to the required components.
  • The surface mount method is an advanced process and frequently used. In this process electronics components are directly mounted on the surface of the PCB board.
  • Devices made from surface mount technology are known as surface mount devices.
  • If you are looking to work individually you can get the advantage of online PCB design services.

Types of PCB(Printed Circuit Boards)

Following is the list of available PCBs in the market. You can choose any PCB based on your requirements related to the project:
  1. Single-Layer PCB
  2. Double Layer PCB
  3. Multilayer PCB
  4. Rigid PCB
  5. Flex PCB
  6. Rigid-Flex PCB
  7. High-Frequency PCB
  8. Aluminium Backed PCB

1. Single Layer PCB

  • Single Layer PCB usually contains only one layer of base material (substrate).
  • One side of the base material is laminated with metal that is used to build an electrical connection between the components soldered on the board.
  • Copper metal is mostly used for creating a conducting path because it acts as a good conductor and comes with low resistance.
  • A solder mask is used on the top of the copper layer that provides solid protection.
  • On the top of the solder mask, there exists a silkscreen coating that is used for marking the elements on the board.
  • Single-layer PCB is an ideal choice for beginners, as mostly used in simple electronics which don't involve complex circuitry.
  • They are easy to manufacture in which circuits and components are soldered on one side of the substrate.
  • Cheap cost and easy availability make these PCBs an ideal choice for mass production.
  • These low-cost boards are widely used in many applications including stereo components, calculators, cameras, power supplies and printers.

2. Double-Sided PCB

  • Double-Sided PCB contains two layers of copper material and substrate material in between these copper layers.
  • Circuits on the one side of the board are connected on the other side of the board by means of holes drilled on the board.
  • Components on these PCB boards are connected using two different technology i.e Through Hole Technology and Surface Mount Technology.
  • Double-sided PCB features a moderate level of complexity and mostly used in a wide range of applications including automotive dashboard, LED lighting, vending machines, amplifiers, HVAC system, instrumentation and many more.
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3. Multilayer PCB

  • Multilayer PCB contains multiple layers of copper and is designed with a combination of single-sided and double-sided PCB boards.
  • A layer of insulation(substrate material) is placed between each board in order to provide protection that prevents the components from burning in case excessive heat is produced.
  • Multilayers on the boards allow the professionals to make complex and thick designs which help in accomplishing more complex electrical tasks.
  • The extra layers incorporated in the multilayer design are very helpful and often used for preventing the electromagnetic interference which is usually emitted by the design itself.
  • Multilayer PCBs are widely used in a number of applications including Satellite systems, GPS technology, Data storage, File servers and Weather analysis systems.
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4. Rigid PCB

  • Rigid PCB is commonly used in electronics that provide strength to the circuits, make them rigid and prevent them from twisting.
  • A computer motherboard is an ideal example of a rigid PCB that is composed of rigid substrate material.
  • The motherboard is a multilayer PCB that is designed to distribute electricity from the power supply and helps in creating a conducting path between different parts of the computer including CPU, RAM and GPU.
  • Rigid PCB is manufactured in large numbers.
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5. Flexible PCB

  • Flexible PCB can flex or transform into any shape based on needs and requirements.
  • Flexible PCBs are also referred to as Flex Circuit which uses plastic material in contrast to rigid PCBs which use fiberglass that provides rigidity and strength to the PCB.
  • The conducting material used in these PCBs is mostly composed of polyester, polyamide or PEEK (Polyether ether ketone).
  • These PCBs pertain to a high level of complexity and come with different layers ranging from single-sided, double-sided or multi-sided flex circuits.
  • The flexible nature sets these PCBs apart from others as they can be folded and wrapped around the corner.
  • In order to avoid environmental hazards, flexible PCBs are composed of materials that are resistant to high-temperature oils, corrosion-resistant, waterproof and shockproof which are the features some traditional PCBs don't have.
  • These PCBs flex circuits are used in a wide range of applications including Flex solar cells, LCD fabrication, Cellular telephones, automotive industries, Laptops, camera, LEDs and many more.
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6. Rigid-Flex PCB

  • Rigid-Flex PCB is manufactured when a flexible PCB is combined with a rigid PCB.
  • This gives both flexibility and strength to the electronic product.
  • Rigid-Flex PCB is more expensive and difficult to design as compared to Rigid or Flexible PCB.
  • Less space required to construct a whole circuit and minimum weight make these PCBs an ideal choice for handheld electronic devices including pacemakers, automobiles, cell phones and digital cameras.
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7. High-Frequency PCB

  • High-Frequency PCB is slightly different in terms of construction and material used from traditional PCB and is capable of transmitting signals over one GHz.
  • These PCBs are often composed of materials like polyphenylene oxide, Teflon, and glass-reinforced epoxy laminate.
  • Small dielectric constant makes Teflon an expensive choice for high-frequency PCB and it also provides low water absorption and small dielectric loss.
  • You must take some things into consideration before choosing high-frequency PCB for your projects like dielectric thickness, dielectric constant and power dissipation.
  • The dielectric constant is the most important feature when it comes to choosing high-frequency PCBs because if the dielectric constant changes too quickly and unable to maintain a constant state, it leads to corrupting the digital signal which affects the overall performance of the signal.
  • Similarly, dielectric loss is directly proportional to the signal loss and it also affects the signal transmission quality. Smaller dielectric loss leads to smaller signal loss.
  • High-Frequency PCBs if used in a wet environment can affect the dielectric constant.
  • The material selection for making these PCBs is very important, the material you pick must be resistant to heat and hazardous chemicals and provides strength and durability to the PCB surface.
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8. Aluminum-Backed PCBs

  • Aluminum Backed PCBs are similar to copper PCBs with some exceptions i.e. Substrate in aluminum-backed PCBs is made up of aluminum or copper material.
  • These PCBs are coupled with insulating material that provides less thermal resistance, avoiding the heat from transferring to its backing.
  • Aluminum Backed PCBs widely replace the traditional PCBs with fiberglass substrate, come with lots of advantages and become an ideal choice for most professionals.
  • Aluminum is inexpensive, making almost 8.23% of the planet's weight, and leads to the most economical manufacturing process.
  • PCBs made up of aluminum are easily recyclable and non-toxic in nature, making them an ideal source for energy conservation.
  • Aluminum is very durable than its counterparts like fiberglass or ceramic and pertains to less damage during the installation and manufacturing process.
  • And aluminum is an ideal choice for dissipating heat from the circuit components, allowing the heat to transfer into the atmosphere rather than transferring it into the rest of the board.
  • Aluminum Backed PCBs are widely used in high output power applications including power supplies, automotive lights, traffic lights, motor controllers and many more.
  • PCB manufacturing process has been evolved in an amazing way from simple single-layer design to the most complex design that can be used in the aerospace and medical field.
  • Making PCB using fiberglass base material is becoming obsolete and is widely replaced by new materials like Teflon, bendable plastic and aluminum which lead to the production of high frequency and aluminum backed PCBs.
  • Apart from these advantages, these aluminum-baked PCBs also pertain to high mechanical stability and have the capability of bearing high mechanical stress when they are used in advanced electrical projects.
  • In contrast to fiberglass boards, aluminum-backed PCBs provide less thermal expansion, allowing the copper foil and insulation to stay placed on the board, making them less likely to extract from the board, hence help in increasing the overall lifespan of the board.
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  • Experts are looking for developing more complex designs based on consumers' needs and requirements. Before you pick a certain PCB, you must consider few things into consideration like space required, strength it can bear, mechanical stability and mechanical stress, however, it is best to contact the manufacturer if you're unsure of the PCB features it exhibits.
That's all for today. I hope you have enjoyed these different types of PCB. We try our best to keep you updated with the information you look for. However, if still you feel any doubt or have any question you can ask me in the comment section below, I'd love to help you according to the best of my expertise. Stay tuned!